Two fascinating front page/online packages caught my bleary eyes this morning.
First, from the home team, The Gazette’s Adam Belz and photog Jonathan Woods turn in a great story/photos/video on KUNI public radio’s tower repairs high above the flat rural patchwork outside Walker. A failed transmission line running 1,700 feet up the tower failed, kicking KUNI off the air for several days. Now, a ragtag team of vagabond tower climber is on the job.
And you thought public radio was all about tote bags and coffee mugs. It’s also about dizzying heights and laughing in the face of frigid death. All things considered, it’s a tough job.
Then, on the ground, The Quad-City Times fronts an intersting story about the discovery of an ancient village west of Oakville. About 1,700 years ago, it was inhabited by hunter-gatherers who also grew sunflowers. The eight-week dig has yielded 100,000 artifacts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is excavating the site as it looks to build a levee to protect Oakville, which was nearly wiped off the map by last year’s flooding.
Over at this old Statehouse, the finger-pointing over the Atalissa bunkhouse has begun in earnest.
Atalissa city officials appeared before the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee Tuesday. The Register focuses on the testimony of City Council member Dennis Hepker, who said he tried to tell the Department of Human Services about the bunkhouse, which housed mentally disabled turkey plant workers, four years ago. He said he was told without proof, the DHS lacked the staff and time to investigate. The DHS says it has no record of Hepker’s call, but concedes that records of unproven reports are regularly destroyed.
O. Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa also focuses on the assertion that Atalissa, a town of only about 300 souls, lacked the manpower and resources to inspect the bunkhouse. The city is staffed by a handful of part-timers. When it snows, the mayor or a council member plows the streets.
Lee/Gazette’s Charlotte Eby also notes testimony that townspeople had an affectionate relationship with the mentally disabled bunkhouse residents, also known as “the boys.” Locals didn’t think the boys were being mistreated.
Testimony continues today, with the Department of Inspections and Appeals up to bat.